Ryan McLaughlin

Age: Jan. 10, 1995

Job Title: Apprentice Carpenter and Joiner

Studied: FCQ Level 3 Carpentry and Joinery

Job: Carpenter

About my job

Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship?

Joinery is something that has always interested me, so when I finished school, I knew it was something I should look into. While I could have joined the trade through a full-time college course, I wanted to get hands-on experience as soon as possible, so I could start developing my skills.

How did you find and apply for your apprenticeship?

When I left school, I started looking at the options available for me, searching out work experience and courses wherever possible. I was made aware that there was a programme being run by The Princes Trust called ‘Get Into Housebuilding’ and I decided to apply.  I was successful in securing a place on an initial six week programme.  Miller Homes had pledged to support the programme, and I was invited to an interview with two of the contract managers, which went very smoothly, and I began working with the company just a month later.

How does the apprenticeship work?

It is a four-year course, which has been split between working on-site and at college. For the first year, I spent two weeks on site, then two weeks in the classroom learning about the theory and health and safety side of the job. In the second year, this went down to one week at college, and in the final two years it was purely site work – which I preferred.

What did you enjoy about your apprenticeship?

Being on site and getting my hands dirty is what I like best. I have made a lot of friends over the last few years who have made the course enjoyable, while also teaching me all the different aspects of the housebuilding industry. Now that I am at the end of the four years, I am happy to say that I still enjoy every part of joinery, which means I chose the right career.

What was the most challenging part of your apprenticeship?

As someone who prefers the practical part of my job, I found college exams quite tough and the fact that I had to complete a lot of coursework. I work a lot better with practical projects rather than theory, but I knew it was part of the course, so I just pushed through.

What are your plans for after your apprenticeship?

I’m delighted to have secured a permanent position with Excel, one of Miller Homes’ subcontractors, now that my apprenticeship has finished.  I can’t wait to continue to improve my skills and work portfolio and build a career in joinery.  

Finally, what advice would you have for others who are planning on doing an apprenticeship?

If you’re considering learning a trade, or you’re interested in housebuilding, then explore your options and go for it. Work should be something you genuinely enjoy, so nothing should stop you from doing it professionally.

I also advise you to stick at it even when the hours seem long. There were a couple of days I felt like I had hit a brick wall, especially with the theory side of things, but it’s all worth it and it really does pay off in the end.